If you are worried about the direction of this Country you are not alone. As Gallup reports, "a record-high 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed, adding to negativity that has been building over the past 10 years."
Source: Gallup Polls.
Look at this chart. If you hold any political office in this country you should be ashamed. You should do as I have urged my Congressman, Barney Frank, to do, resign (perhaps he listened). These results are dreadful and I wonder how long it will be before we throw all the bums out and fix this? Consulting the words of our founding document, The Declaration of Independence, we seem to be getting pretty close to the breaking point:
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security
(exact quotation, underlining added by author of this paper)
Does our Federal Government really have the consent of the governed? Are the American people well represented? Over 80% of the citizens of this Country were opposed to the bail-out of Wall Street and the Large Banks, and yet we bailed them out anyway. In fact, we now learn that the $700 Billion TARP program which was jammed through Congress, in spite of overwhelming voter opposition, was just a drop in the bucket compared to the Trillions that the Federal Reserve Bank, without oversight, doled out to the large banks and financial concerns. Senator Sanders found $15 Trillion in a limited audit of the FED, and Bloomberg's FOIA request found $7 Trillion of almost zero interest loans. PEOPLE: WAKE UP! If you or I could borrow trillions for free, and use it to speculate in the market (with a government backstop), or invest in government bonds, we would be rich too. This is the largest fraud/wealth transfer in the history of democracy, and yet very few people are connecting the dots and realizing that these bail-outs are the reason why the prices of food and gasoline have gone up relentlessly. We should be marching in the streets, but, alas, most people are too busy trying to earn a living.
Charles Hugh Smith has it exactly right. The bail-outs, and their claimed "necessity", are the BIG LIE method of propaganda. Letting over leveraged institutions fail, and letting the system cleanse itself, would have been painful but we would be in recovery by now (see: Iceland). The bail-outs did not benefit the American people, the bail-outs benefited the banking interests and their employees, the Washington, DC politicians. We were threatened that there would be martial law if TARP was not approved. The Government story is that we would have had a second great depression without the bailouts. I say — NONSENSE. Nothing in this world is too big to fail (think Soviet Union) and the cost of not letting things fail is exactly what we are currently burdened with. THE BAIL-OUTS CREATE INFLATION. The banks make lending mistakes, we pay in the form of higher inflation because the FED prints money to cover those mistakes.
Moving back to principles stated in the Declaration of Independence, I would submit that our government has crossed the Rubicon in terms of abuses, and the recent Gallup Polls support this contention. So, here is one citizen's short and simple list of cases where the will of the people has been ignored or where power has been abused.
A working list of examples of the government ignoring "the will of the people":
- Most Americans are Anti-War and yet we have multiple undeclared wars in progress.
- President Obama won because he spoke Anti-War themes, yet he has not delivered.
- Also, the wars are enormously expensive and are a large part of the budget problems we are having.
- The finances of the Federal Government are completely out of control and the deficit and debts are at historic levels which can only lead to economic chaos and massive inflation.
- Most Americans are opposed to Torture, Rendition, Extra-Judicial Killings and Guantanamo, yet they continue.
- Most Americans think we should mind our own business and not be an Empire, yet we continue to behave like an Empire. Furthermore, we cannot afford to be an Empire.
- Most Americans believe we should take care of our own first, and yet foreign aid and the cost of foreign entanglements are a huge budget item.
- Most Americans believe the Federal Government employees should live by the same rules that they do, yet Congress and the Senate are exempt from insider trading laws.
- Most Americans oppose special treatment for the banks and the "too big to fail" doctrine and yet it is still in place.
- Most Americans believe in the right of habeus corpus and trial by jury, yet the government has taken and is taking actions to eliminate these rights in order to keep us "secure".
- Most Americans believe that in fighting evil, it is important not to become evil. That is, principles trump methods. The beauty of the American ideal is that it is based upon principles and fairness. When we compromise on these principles we harm ourselves.
A working list of actions on the part of the Federal government which represent a "train of abuses and usurpations":
- The Government clearly lies about all important economic statistics, particularly inflation, which they claim is under control, but which in reality is crushing hard working people, the middle class and retired people who live on fixed incomes. (John Williams, Shadow Stats has proven this.)
- The Congress is just one large pay-to-play whorehouse were the will of the people is the last thing considered. Bills are written by lobbyists and not even read before being voted upon.
- The Courts are no better, declaring Corporations to have the same rights as individuals.
- The Federal Reserve is a privately owned bank, controlled by the banking interests, and it is neither Federal nor a Reserve. It has the power to print unlimited amounts of money and it operates without any Congressional oversight or transparency as recently proven by the SIGTARP Audit and by the Bloomberg FOIA disclosures.
- If the FED miscalculates and shoves too much money into the system it runs the risk of creating not just inflation, but a hyper-inflation which would lead to a total collapse in the value of the dollar.
- Over the past 200 years the Government has done many things which are clearly unconstitutional, yet, because it is the Government which enforces the laws they have been able to get away with these violations. Two notable examples are: Roosevelt's seizure of gold in the 1933 and Nixon's final removal of the country from the Gold Standard in 1971. Both are actions which an independent court comprised of American citizen jurors would find unconstitutional.
- The Founding Fathers recognized how dangerous a powerful government could be. The U.S. Constitution was a document which was written to LIMIT the power of the Federal Government. Unfortunately, the Federal Government also interprets the Constitution. Not surprisingly they seem to see little problem with the expansion of Federal powers that have taken place over the past 200 years.
So, as U.S. citizens what can we do about these issues?
Here are the reforms I support.
- Term limits for all political offices. Senate one term. Congress, two terms. We need citizen legislators, not professional politicians.
- Politicians cannot raise money or take contributions. No money in politics. Government funding of elections, so that all candidates have the same amount of money.
- Politicians are banned from working for industries they have regulated.
- Lobbying banned.
- Judges subject to citizen review. Jury nullification accepted and endorsed.
- Bureaucracies severely downsized. Bottom up budgeting. (FAA is an example of a good bureaucracy).
- Glass-Steagall Act reinstated.
- Financial derivatives banned.
- Too big to fail doctrine repealed.
- Federal Reserve completely audited.
- US Gold Reserves audited.
- Sound money doctrine, gold standard, or Government Bills.
- Legalization of marijuana. Broad pardon for all minor drug offenses.
- Interest rates set by the marketplace, balancing savings against investment demand.
- Elimination of all "earmarks" and the earmark process.
- Elimination of all government subsidies for all industries.
That ought to be a good start. Feel free to add your own suggestions.
The dreams of a fool? Perhaps, but think about it. The U.S. Political system is royally screwed up, if we do not fix it things will get worse. In good conscience can we just give up?
No, the question is, why can't we do this? The answer is that we can do it, we just have not done it yet. Maybe things will have to become much worse before we reform the system. But we need to stop getting distracted by the existing dialogue and the efforts of the people who hold the power to get us to fight with one another. I do not agree with Michael Moore on many things, but I bet that he and I agree on this entire list. I bet the Tea Party and OWS would accept large portions of this list. In fact, I bet that if this list were submitted by Gallup to a broad cross section of Americans that we could get a super-majority to approve. Who would oppose such measures? Only the Politicians, Corporations and Crony Capitalists. Admittedly they are big, powerful and have a lot of money. However, we have them greatly outnumbered. To mix my metaphors, I will take the David in this fight, because the Emperor clearly is naked, and the American people, just using their common sense, are waking up to this fact.
I hope others will join me in pursuing this agenda, and in providing zero support to any politician who does not advocate that we reform this broken system. Vote the bastards out. Do not stop until we have bastards who will reform the system. If people want to lead better lives they need to fix what is truly broken. Those who hold power are not going to help them to see the light. Citizens are going to have to find the light on their own, and then pursue "their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security".
Lawrence Lepard [send him mail] is a venture capitalist and investment manager and lives and works in the Boston, Massachusetts area.